David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years, David has evolved within his own world. Here I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

Friday July 6 2012, sixteen years after he first started nursery, David came home from school for the last time.

It has been a long journey over the years. There have been triumphs and there have been tears. None more so than his final week.

When he first started at Old Hall School in 1996, David was, as I state in my introduction, given no chance by the doctors who diagnosed his autism. He had no IQ, he would be unlikely to improve and he would be like a two-year-old most of his life. That’s what they proclaimed.

David back in 1997 – Aged 6.

Okay, so tell me how many two-year-old children can operate a computer like David can now? He posts videos on Facebook, takes photographs, edits and upload them? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg concerning his skills.

Okay, his learning on subjects is that of a younger child but he can dress himself, bath/shower and with much prompting, tidy up. He even got the vacuum out the other day without being asked. Then told me he’d done it. Then asked for money as a reward, to spend when he goes into respite.

At 14, David changed schools as Old Hall only took pupils up to that age. He began five years at Mary Eliiot School in Walsall. It is here that so much hard work has been done by excellent staff to bring David though the final hurdle of traumatic teenage years and into adulthood. Today, he has life skills, doing things I would never have believed possible back in 1996. Well, not believed had I taken any notice of the doctors.

Therefore, I want to say thanks. First to Old Hall, then especially to his teachers, class assistants and all the rest at Mary Elliot. All of these people are not simply staff, they are his friends. He is going to miss them the same as I’ll miss picking him up, hearing the stories of the day. I also know, they will miss him too.

In his last week, the school held a prom. It wasn’t known until very late if David would be able to cope with the occasion but thankfully, he made it and for once, didn’t look scruffy.

It’s gong to be an odd time ahead. Everything David has known for many years is changing. I’m not sure it’s hit him yet. There are so many constant factors in his life, routine the autistic person relies on. They are no longer there. I am sure he will conquer whatever hurdles lie in front of him, though. He has learned to do this with the support of those at school, and maybe a little from me, as well.

David on his Prom day with Mary Elliot staff: Wanda, Louise and Jody.

Good luck, David. You have achieved so much. And thank you to everybody who has stuck by him, never given up on him, and not cast him aside. You know who you are.

Cheers.

Nick

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